May 14th Essay – Subversion

What ways does Quentin Tarantino ‘Subvert” audience expectations? discuss using the films you have studied?

Quentin Tarantino is one of the most if not the most well known Director for controversial and postmodern films. He is the best of the best at creating a shocking and convention-breaking films. For Example in Inglourious Basterds  Most of the film is shown from the point of view of the Jew’s and their thoughts and doings within the war. Now in real life the germans lost the war, like in the film but they were fought by british forces and the british forces won. Whereas in the film Quentin Tarantino and alter the history and outcome of the war by showing the Jew’s as a rebellious people who in time overcome the Nazi regime and win the war by killing all of the Nazi leaders. This is not expected by the audience because you expect that the film is just a representation of the war from the point of view of the Jew’s however Quentin Tarantino subverts the audiences expectations by showing the Jew’s rival and overcome the Nazi Regime in a very violent and disturbing many in some cases. When people think about the war many people see the Nazi’s as the bad guy’s and the jews as innocent civilians that can’t protect themselves. However Quentin Tarantino ssubverts this idea and instead the Nazi’s are still bad but the Jew’s are worse and perform more gruesome punishments and tortuous activities then the Nazi’s within the film. This subverted the audiences expectations and shocked many who watched it, this is what Quentin Tarantino attempts as the outcome with every film he makes. This subversion of expectations made many interesting reviews of the film and made the film a very successful film due to it being different if not the opposite to any other war film.

Quentin Tarantino alter stories and historic stories so that they are subvert like stated above. However he also subverts the audiences expectations by killing off what seem to be important and main characters part way through the film. For instance in Inglourious Basterds there is a british militant who is sent to assist the “Bastards” in gaining information and assisting with their missions. However in his first mission he assists them with he dies. Now when he is introduced it seems that he is going to be one of the main characters to kill and defeat the Nazi Regime. However once with the “Bastards”  in the basement bar scene he has given away his identity and origin and dies. Now Quentin Tarantino could have written the script so that he would survive because he was the “british” input into the resistance but instead he dies. Now why he does this with many key characters we cannot be sure but it definitely works with his style of film and it adds to his unique directing style and makes many of his films successful. This can also be shown within Pulp Fiction when  two of the main characters “Vincent” and “Bruce” are conflicted with one another. Vincent is sent to kill bruce and bruce inst home so makes himself at home, leaves his gun in the kitchen and goes to the toilet. Then bruce comes home hears him in the toilet grabs the gun and shoots him. Now this is another example of the killing off of main characters.

To continue about Pulp Fiction Quentin Tarantino subverts the expectations of the audience by having crossovers between multiple story lines and breaking in continuity. There are two storylines running alongside each other within the film “The Bonnie Situation” & “Vincent Vega & Marsellus Wallace’s Wife”. Now in the Bonnie Situation vincent and Jules are the main characters and in Vincent Vega & Marsellus Wallace’s Wife” the main characters Vincent and Mia Wallace and also Bruce. Now both of these storylines could be separate films in themselves but instead are chopped up and played in sections between each other. Then they are crossed over when the death of Vincent occurs. This subverts the audiences expectations because as far as they can see up to that moment the characters and storylines are different and are not expecting the characters to interact across the stories and end up killing a main character from the other storyline.

To finish Quentin Tarantino also breaks the continuity a lot within Pulp Fiction. So much so that even the dead character of Vincent is alive at the end of the film within the Cafe Scene. Now this confuses the audience because they have seen the exact same man die earlier in the film but then he is alive again by the end of the film which confuses the viewer and subverts the expectations of the film. This scene that ends the film is the exact same scene that starts the film. However this time it is from a different persons perspective. The first time in the cafe it was from the characters planning on robbing the cafe customers but by the second use of the scene from Jules’s point of view he prevents the robbery from being pulled off. This confuses many of the audience that they are left asking questions to themselves after the film has finished. They are not sure what has just happened and whether everything in the film actually happened. This subverts the expectations of the audience because it leaves it on an inconclusive cliffhanger which only Quentin Tarantino can answer. This is why he is a very successful post modern film director and maker and this explains why he has been as successful and renowned for his works.


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